Discover Each Man’s Thumbscrew
In planning your assault, keep these Six principles in mind:
1. Pay Attention to Gestures and Unconscious Signals
As Sigmund Freud remarked, “No mortal can keep a secret. If his lips are silent, he
chatters with his fingertips; betrayal oozes out of him at every pore.” This is a critical
concept in the search for a person’s weakness—it is revealed by seemingly unimportant gestures
and passing words. The key is not only what you look for but
where and how you look. Train yourself to listen.
Start by always seeming interested—the appearance of a sympathetic ear will spur anyone to talk.
Share a secret with them. It can be completely made up, or it can be real but of no great
importance to you· This will usually elicit a response that reveals a weakness.
Train your eye for details How someone tips a waiter.
What delights a person. Hidden messages in clothes.
Find people’s idols, the things they worship and will do anything to get—perhaps you
can be the supplier of their fantasies. 2. Find the Helpless Child
Most weaknesses begin in childhood, before the self builds up compensatory defenses.
A. Perhaps the child was pampered or indulged in a particular area. If they reveal a secret
taste, a hidden indulgence, indulge it. In either case they will be unable to resist
you. The indulgence or the deficiency may be buried but never disappears. B. Perhaps
a certain emotional need went unfulfilled. If your victims or rivals went without something
important, such as parental support, when they were children, supply it. Learn about
a childhood need; a powerful key to a person’s weakness. One sign of this weakness is that
when you touch on it the person will often act like a child. Be on the lookout, then,
for any behavior that should have been outgrown. 3. Look for Contrasts
An overt trait often conceals its opposite. 1. People who thump their chests are often
big cowards; a prudish exterior may hide a lascivious soul 2. The uptight are often screaming
for adventure; the shy are dying for attention. 3. Probe beyond appearances, you will often
find people’s weaknesses in the opposite of the qualities they reveal to you.
4. Find the Weak Link Sometimes in your search for weaknesses it
is not what but who that matters. A. There is often someone behind the scenes who has
a great deal of power, a tremendous influence over the person superficially on top. These
behind-the-scenes powerbrokers are the group’s weak link: Win their favor and you indirectly
influence the king. B. Find the one person who will bend under pressure. When a group
under attack closes ranks to resist an outsider—there is always a weak link in the chain.
5. Fill the Void The two main emotional voids to fill are insecurity
and unhappiness. 1. The insecure are suckers for any kind of social validation; as for
the chronically unhappy, look for the roots of their unhappiness. 2. The insecure and
the unhappy are the people least able to disguise their weaknesses. The ability to fill their
emotional voids is a great source of power, and an indefinitely prolonged one.
6. Feed on Uncontrollable The uncontrollable emotion can be a paranoid
fear. 1. Fear disproportionate to the situation. 2. Or any base motive such as lust, greed,
vanity, or hatred. People in the grip of these emotions often cannot control themselves,
and you can do the controlling for them. Five Reminders
1. Since we all try to hide our weaknesses, there is little to be learned from our conscious
behavior. What oozes out in the little things outside our conscious control is what you
want to know. 2. Find the weak link, the person in control
is often not the king or queen; it is someone behind the scenes, the favorite, the husband
or wife, even the court fool. This person may have more weaknesses than the king himself,
because his power depends on all kinds of capricious factors outside his control.
3. When searching for suckers, always look for the dissatisfied, the unhappy, and the
insecure. Such people are riddled with weaknesses and have needs that you can fill. Their neediness
is the groove in which you place your thumbnail and turn them at will.
4. Always look for passions and obsessions that cannot be controlled. The stronger the
passion, the more vulnerable the person: This may seem surprising, for passionate people
look strong. In fact, however, they are simply filling the stage with their theatricality,
distracting people from how weak and helpless they really are.
5. Look at the part of a person that is most visible—their greed, lust, intense fear.
These are the emotions they cannot conceal, and over which they have the least control.
And what people cannot control, you can control for them.
But as always be warned. Playing on people’s weakness has one significant
danger: You may stir up an action you cannot control. In your games of power you always
look several steps ahead and plan accordingly. And you exploit the fact that other people
are more emotional and incapable of such foresight. But when you play on their vulnerabilities,
the areas over which they have least control, you can unleash emotions that will upset your
plans. Push timid people into bold action and they
may go too far; answer their need for attention or recognition and they may need more than
you want to give them. The helpless, childish element you are playing on can turn against
you. The more emotional the weakness, the greater the potential danger! Know the limits
to this game, then, and never get carried away by your control over your victims. You
are after power, not the thrill of control.